The Sabres Observer
The inaugural offseason of the art of the possible is under way. And while Sabres owner Terry Pegula and President Ted Black continue to dazzle this town with their fan friendly attitude and media accessibility, much of the fate of what their public image will look like down the road will soon be out of their own hands.
Six weeks from today, we’ll begin to see to what level things have changed with Darcy Regier and his hockey department in Buffalo - for real. That’s when Minnesota will host the NHL draft, an event that over the years has produced some deals that altered the fortunes of a few franchises. And by deals I’m not talking about drafting Sidney Crosby.
So what was it about the Sabres series that wore the Flyers down so much?
Too many times against Buffalo, the Flyers fell into early two-goal deficits and were forced to climb out of seemingly insurmountable holes. There are positives to be said for never quitting, but there’s also an emotional and physical toll that repeatedly getting into such situations can take.
“I think that the Buffalo series may have taken more out of us than a normal seven-game series,” Sean O’Donnell said. “They are physically and emotionally exhausting, there was a lot of ups and downs there. We came back a lot, I think looking back on that seven-game series, it seemed more like a nine- or 10-game series.”
They looked more like they’d been bruised and beaten up in a pair of series against high-caliber competition, not just a single series against a No. 7 seed. When they finally faced off against Boston, they looked like a shell of the team they were back in December and January, and lacked fire, jump and the desperation coach Peter Laviolette speaks so highly of.
more, including quotes from Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and GM Paul Holmgren.
From Mike Schopp of WGR-550,
Once again, many of the big-name goaltenders are nowhere to be found by Round 2 of the NHL playoffs. One listener tells me that of the top 18 goalies ranked by salary-cap hit, only two (Luongo and Thomas) are still playing. Their teams were 1-2 in the regular season in goal differential, which tells us that they have good goaltending for sure but also a lot more.
There’s no knowing whether or not Vancouver or Boston would be in the same position—one game away from home ice in the conference finals—with lesser goalies. But it’s certainly possible. The last team to win the Stanley Cup whose strength was goaltending was the 2003 New Jersey Devils.
Now we come to the Sabres, about whom so many people say that their strength is goaltending that I might as well just call it a fact. Their goaltending is hardly stupendous, but if goaltending isn’t their strength then I don’t know what is. No other element of the team had much of a playoff series, I know that much.
More and more fans seem to have bought into my position from years back, that signing Ryan Miller long-term was not the brightest way to build the team. Now, some of those fans are ready to trade Miller and have that amount to a similarly paid player at another position.
From Bruce Garrioch,
“If you stuck a pin in a map and circled every area within 90 minutes of downtown Detroit, that’s where we’re trying to draw from,” [Wings’ senior VP/alternate governor Jim] Devellano said.
“What has worked for us is marketing pretty hard into western Ontario. Big time. Windsor, Chatham, London, St. Thomas, Sarnia. We’ve marketed big into Ontario, and with the Canadian dollar now strong, it has helped.”
“We’ve made sure that people in western Ontario understand there is an availability of tickets. That has helped. We’re actually up a fair amount with the Red Wings. We haven’t been too bad, but I can’t tell you the last four years haven’t been a tough sell because they have been.”
The Wings/Tigers didn’t just dream up the strategy, they’ve seen it work elsewhere and borrowed the idea. All they had to do was study the success of the Buffalo Sabres and Bills.
more , including much more from Devellano.
via blog post by Budd Bailey of The Buffalo News,
I remember Scotty Bowman talking about a player who had many more goals than assists. He looked at the scoring line for the season, which was 34-18 (goals and assists), and said something like, “He may win the Cy Young Award with a stat like that.”
The winner of the NHL’s Cy Young Award for 2010-11, then, is Michael Grabner of the Islanders. He didn’t score all of his goals against the Sabres, although it might have seemed that way. And Drew Stafford of the Sabres wasn’t far behind:
Name – Team – Goals – Assists – Diff.
Michael Grabner – N.Y. Islanders – 34 – 18 – 16
Brian Gionta – Montreal – 29 – 17 – 12
Ryan Jones – Edmonton – 18 – 7 – 11
Scottie Upshall – Columbus – 22 – 12 – 10
Drew Stafford – Buffalo – 31 – 21 – 10
Brenden Morrow – Dallas – 33 – 23 – 10
Nikolay Zherdev – Philadelphia – 16 – 6 - 10
David Jones – Colorado – 27 – 18 – 9
Matt Moulson – N.Y. Islanders – 31 – 22 – 9
Ryan Kesler – Vancouver – 41 – 32 - 9
Bailey’s post also includes a link to a page, courtesy of the Hockey Abstract blog, with the list of all-time leaders. See if you can guess who is at the top.
From The Buffalo News,
The Sabres have called a news conference for 11 a.m. today to announce a contract extension for coach Lindy Ruff, a source told The Buffalo News.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula, General Manager Darcy Regier and Ruff are expected to be an attendance. Ruff’s contract expired at the end of the season, and bringing him back was one of Pegula’s top priorities going into the offseason. Reaching an agreement was considered a formality.
From The Buffalo News,
Ryan Miller, following a long season-ending chat today, didn’t want to keep his injury secret any longer. He acknowledged the injury that sidelined him late in the year was a concussion. His head got dinged by four shots in a week, with blasts from New Jersey’s Brian Rolston and Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf doing the most damage, though it was the cumulative effect that sidelined him.
more , including audio from Miller this morning during locker cleanout.
The Sabres lost 5-2 to a superior Flyers team last night in Game 7. Thanks to Mick Kern for having me on the War Room show on Sirius XM this morning (click audio link below) to discuss the game and look ahead towards what should be an interesting offseason in Buffalo.
From Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News,
Sure, the Wells Fargo Center has been a howling, orange-clad cauldron of noise, but the Sabres have won here twice in this series and also won here on March 5. And get this: In the last 10 Game Sevens in the NHL, the home team is just 2-8—and the road team has won the last four straight.
more , including audio from Daniel Briere, Mike Richards and Peter Laviolette
Some quick thoughts on the Sabres, for the attention span impaired, going into tomorrow night’s Game 7 in Philadelphia…..
• With all of the venom spewed from Buffalo fans at Tim Connolly over the past few seasons, you’d think right about now they’d be sending Mike Richards thank you cards. You could half-jokingly say it was Connolly’s destiny to be knocked out of the series anyway, either from a jarring hit or from sacrificing himself for the team during a penalty kill by throwing his face in front of a shot from the point. For my money, his work at times with Buffalo having the man (or men) disadvantage has bordered on heroic. So much for the maligned center supposedly not having any character.
• All of this fuss about defenseman Chris Butler deserving to be benched for Game 7 is making me roll my eyes just a bit. He had a rough game, highlighted by his failure to tie up Ville Leino on the overtime goal, but is now really the time to break up the Sabres top defensive pairing? Are all the great things he did early in the series now deemed as meaningless? Butler was even for Sunday’s game while Mike Weber, who had some adventures back there with partner Steve Montador, was a -3. Folks, if you want to bench every guy on the defense who has had rough games in this series then you’ll have Dennis Persson and Corey Fienhage in your lineup on Tuesday night. Good luck with that.
About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]